Appellate Judge Dan Mancini's reflexes are so quick you can hear his sleeves rustle when he throws a punch.
Being a killer's a competitive job.
Director Chang Peng-yi's The Elimination Pursuit (AKA Three Famous Constables) opens with a bang as a mysterious, black-clad warrior known only as Lone Wolf (Tien Peng) wipes out a group of China's best swordsmen. Meanwhile, the Devil Clan is wreaking havoc among the aristocracy because, well, they're the Devil Clan and that's what they do. Two constables (Chang Lin and Tien Ho) are called into action to pursue and eliminate the nefarious clan of ninja. Eventually, Lone Wolf teams up with the two constables in order to kick loads of ninja butt.
The Elimination Pursuit is a lesser-known wuxia that probably should have stayed lesser-known. Wuxia aren't exactly known for brilliant narrative structure, but this flick is so light on plot it's basically an 80-minute string of loosely-related swordfights. If you've seen other, more high-profile Hong Kong fantasy-actioners, it should come as no surprise that the flick's dialogue is as ridiculous and phony as the actors' delivery. If you're a fan of the genre, that's all part of the fun, though. I'd be a fool if I wasted words savaging a wuxia for not being high art.
Tien Peng is the move's only major martial arts star. He delivers a stone-faced performance as the hard-assed Lone Wolf that is pure cliché, but fun nonetheless. Chang Lin (AKA Chang Ling, Pearl Chang, and Pearl Cheung) is also entertaining as the film's ass-kicking female constable. Her scenes are the best in the film, because her warrior is the closest thing to a real character the film has. Plus, it's always fun to watch a woman thrash an army of blustering macho men. Everyone else in the movie, including Tien Ho, is absolutely forgettable.
Chang Peng-yi stages his many, many set pieces with a fair amount of style. They crackle with kinetic energy, propelling the viewer toward the film's climax. It's too bad the absence of a compelling plot or characters saps the action of any dramatic or emotional tension. I can't say I hated the flick. Nothing about it compelled me to feel anything as intense as hate. I forgot it almost as soon as it was over. In a week, I probably won't even remember writing this review.
This RareScope DVD release of The Elimination Pursuit is utterly horrible. Despite indications on the packaging, the transfer is not anamorphically enhanced. Instead, we get a flat, letterboxed transfer with burned-in English subtitles. The unrestored image hurts the eye. Detail is soft, grain is coarse, and flicker is abundant and constant. Source damage is substantial throughout the show. To say the colors are off is a gross understatement. A constant miasma of green and red swirls behind and before the characters onscreen. It's as if the transfer was digitally married to psychedelic gel effects created by Storm Thorgerson for a 1967 performance of Pink Floyd at the UFO Club. This is no garden variety bad transfer, folks. This ranks up there among the worst DVD images I've ever seen—and I've seen some doozies.
Audio is an exceedingly flat two-channel mono in the film's original Cantonese. It's not pretty to listen to, but it's significantly cleaner than I would've guessed considering the low quality of the video.
Supplements include a trio of "fabulous fights." Each is taken from a different movie starring one of the three stars of The Elimination Pursuit. There's also a RareScope trailer reel. Its video quality makes the feature look state-of-the-art.
The Elimination Pursuit is a middling wuxia given a shoddy DVD treatment by RareScope. Unless you're a hardcore fan of the genre, I'd avoid this one like the plague.
Guilty as charged.
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• Three Fabulous Fights
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